Scott’s gloves are off to battle mental health issues

Scott Plews on the ice for Fife Flyers in 1993
Scott Plews on the ice for Fife Flyers in 1993

A former Fife Flyers player dropped the gloves for a battle with mental illness and is now raising awareness of the condition.

Scott Plews, who had two spells at the Fife Ice Arena in the 1990s, suffered a serious bout of depression after leaving the sport professionally aged just 23.

Scott receiving an award from the Kirkcaldy and Central Fife Sports Council last year

Scott receiving an award from the Kirkcaldy and Central Fife Sports Council last year

Following treatment, the 41-year-old has started his own clothing brand Gloves Off which focuses on spreading mental health awareness.

Scott had one of the toughest roles in ice hockey – that of the enforcer.

After icing with Flyers he went on to play with Paisley Pirates and Edinburgh Racers.

Since hanging up his skates Scott has gone on to establish himself as a highly successful junior coach, and has led the GB under-16 team.

Mental health nurse Louisa Thomson sports Gloves Off clothing

Mental health nurse Louisa Thomson sports Gloves Off clothing

Scott, who grew up in Kirkcaldy, said: “When I played I had a bit of an enforcers job, and when you have a role like that which may involve some rough stuff and fighting, that can be hard to deal with off the ice.

“I was a professional until I was 23 and I gave that up to become a salesman.

“I was earning good money but basically the job put me into a position where I was suffering from depression.”

Scott says his condition was diagnosed as “severe”.

“Looking back I would say it played a part in me retiring so early from hockey, but mainly it was the pressure of my job,” he said.

“I wanted to still have something to do with hockey so I started a clothing brand that was involved with the sport. It was a brainchild that I had when I was suffering from depression.”

With Gloves Off - its name inspired by ice hockey - Scott says he wants his brand to be associated with mental health awareness: “I want to be able to help to end the stigma attached to mental health.”

Giving her backing to Scott is mental health nurse Louisa Thompson, who works at the Victoria Hospital.

Along with her twin sister Christina, Louisa (27) took part in Miss Great Britain last weekend. She says promoting mental health awareness was her driving force.

She said: “I was introduced to Scott because, not only do I want to raise awareness of the issues around mental health, but I also want to make people aware of the services and help that are out there for them.

“There can be any number of things going on in someone’s life so my job is to help and guide them towards the appropriate support that they need. Everyone is different.

“Taking part in the Miss Great Britain competition can also help to promote Scott’s clothing line which in turn will help raise awareness so it’s great that we’re working together.

“Neither Christina or I won Miss GB, but it was great experience and we had an amazing time!”

Through coaching Scott says he hopes to try and spread a positive attitude to his youngsters.

“I give awards for the best attitude, not necessarily the best player. I coach from U10 to U16s and have talks with those young players explaining that learning good life skills is far more important than becoming a good ice hockey player.”

Through his online presence Scott’s brand – and message – is spreading.

“I get messages from people who have nothing to do with me but say they love the brand. They may be fighting their own personal battles but are proud to wear the clothes.”

One message that the pair want to push is men should not feel ashamed of asking for help.

Louisa said: “There’s support available in Fife for males suffering from depression, but I think that they can find it particularly difficult to admit they need it.”

“I think on the whole women are able to express themselves easier than men are able to.

“There’s a stigma when men are feeling vulnerable, they don’t like talking about it. They maybe don’t want to say that they are feeling a bit down or just don’t want to admit it.

“Also, if they are really low, then they’re not always thinking straight.”

Louisa says early intervention is crucial.

“My aim is to make men and women aware that there are people out there that can talk to them.

“There is a men only helpline called CALM which they could call, as well as the Samaritans, or just talk to their GP.”

Scott added: “I urge anyone with issues to seek professional help or even just speak to a friend.

“I get people telling me they’ve been through it and despite me being a total stranger, I’m the only one they’ve ever told.”

You can visit Scott’s website at www.glovesoffclothing.com.